No more hassling about what shoes go with your Monday tie, no more bickering about that co-worker who always spills coffee in the break room, no more sprinting to the bus shuttle each morning while trying to catch your breath the entire ride to the office—these might be a few of the benefits that come with working from home, which has become a wide normative practice owing to the presence of “The Rona”, as millennials have lightheartedly dubbed the world’s pandemic. But there’s a lot more to gain from this newfangled and rapidly metamorphic approach to work and productivity.
Recent studies have supported the idea that working from home—for the right people—can increase productivity and decrease stress. Research also suggests companies that encourage and support a work-from-home protocol actually save money in the long run—an added bonus on the employer side.
We’ll be looking at some of the health benefits in this article.
Room for improved fitness
From a candid standpoint, easy access to snacks meant some employees may have gained weight while working from home during the pandemic. Some employees stared at their screen for hours, sitting in awkward positions with no breaks.
However, supported working from home could also improve employees’ health. It enables them to work toward aspirational fitness goals by scheduling workouts at convenient times.
It creates opportunities for employees to take breaks from the laptop to toss in a load of laundry, take the dog for a quick walk, vacuum the carpets, or do a few stretches in another room. Small bits of activity, interspersed throughout the day, have long-term positive impacts on physical and physiological health. Ten minutes of energetically climbing the stairs in your house could boost your lung capacity and raise your spirits.
Achieving those benefits requires employees to have control over their work schedule. Organizations can help by providing resources to design better home workspaces and software that nudges employees to take breaks throughout the day.
Less Commute Stress
Commuting — especially by car in dense communities — exposes employees to air pollution and raises their risk of respiratory or cardiovascular problems. In theory, working from home should let employees breathe easier, both physically and psychologically. Avoiding the commute saves time and money, two crucial resources that can be channeled to improve the quality of employees’ personal lives.
The average one-way commuting time in the US is 27.1 minutes—that’s nearly an hour each day spent getting to and from work, and it really adds up.
But wasting time commuting is just one of the downsides of getting to and from work. More than 30 minutes of daily one-way commuting is associated with increased levels of stress and anxiety, and research shows that commuting 10 miles to work each day is associated with health issues like:
- Higher cholesterol
- Elevated blood sugar
- Increased risk of depression
Ditching the commute helps you support your mental and physical health. The time savings can allow you to focus on priorities outside of work, like getting extra sleep in the morning, spending more time with family, getting in a workout, or eating a healthy breakfast.
More time for movement
The process of getting yourself to work takes up a lot of productive time. The average city dweller spends 75 minutes every day travelling to work. That time can be spent on health-building activities like going to the gym, catching up on sleep or meditating.
That said, because you aren’t commuting and could easily remain in your home all day, you risk becoming more sedentary. Home workers must proactively plan active time into their day. Handily, however, they can often avoid peak gym times or take advantage of home workouts on the web and fitness apps.
Improved mental health
The constant pull that people feel between time spent with family and time spent at work can affect mental health, and flexible work options allow those priorities to co-exist more peacefully.
And this isn’t just a benefit for employees—companies also benefit when their workers are healthier. Employees in unhealthy workplaces are likely to experience higher stress and lower engagement and these feelings actually spread throughout the workplace, negatively affecting workplace culture.
Companies that give employees more control over when, where, and how they work through flexible work options are supporting the health and wellness of their workers and enhancing the company’s culture and productivity at the same time.
A lot of things have changed about life as we know it and the workplace is definitely no exception. Working from home is an inevitable modification to the façade of this ever morphing and transforming global economy. It might be a new experience for a whole bunch but we bet we’ve made you see the silver lining behind this novel dark cloud. Don’t be shy to reach out to us for more health tips and professional medical consultation. Be safe, even as you hammer on your keypad from the comfort of your quarantine casa.